The following review takes place between 6:40 a.m. and 7:01 a.m. Words are written in real time...
In the end, 24 saved its best for last. Not the last episode of this inconsistent season; but the last two hours in the history of this iconic, influential series.
After weeks of complaining about the revenge-fueled monster Jack Bauer had become, I was thrilled to see the show stop and acknowledge just how far over the edge he had gone. When Jason Pillar stitched our hero up and ran down the murderous measures the latter had taken recently, Jack defended his actions as necessary because justice had to be served.
But he quickly realized he might not have been serving it in the proper way. Hence, his decision to let Pillar live.
It took Chloe, of course, the one person who has always had Jack's back (as he later acknowledged) to truly talk sense into sense into Bauer. His suicidal mission to execute the Russian President may have seemed extreme to new 24 viewers, but those of us that have been along for the entire ride are aware of just how pained and damaged a man Jack is.
This wasn't the first time he considered ending his own life. With the exception of Kim and Chloe, he's lost everyone he's ever been close to, often as collateral damage to his own actions.
Creatively, I've maintained that the best way for 24 to conclude would be for Jack to die a heroic death. This was never a possibility because we all know a 24 movie is on the way, which did remove a modicum of suspense from the last few minutes.That option off the table, the drama gave Jack the best send-off it could. Here's why:
- He was alone in his final moments. There was no one around. This fit the profile of a man whose actions and decisions have resulted in a lonely existence.
- We watched his final scene via CTU technology. Even this small detail was appropriate, as 24 was the first show to rely on gizmos and gadgets to get important jobs done.
- Jack's conversation with the President made it clear that his job something had changed. Not just because she told him the authorities would be on the way; but because he never addressed her as "Madame President." He never thanked her for the call. This is a man that has been respectful of the most powerful office in the world for years... but the actions by his own government this season finally broke his faith in many ways. Leaving the country is likely the best thing for his wounded psyche, as well as his freedom.
- It ended with Chloe saying "shut it down." The series could have chosen to reunite Jack with Kim, but it acknowledged what we all have known for years: a show heavy in action and suspense has remained grounded in the unusual relationship that developed between Jack and this CTU programmer. Expect Mary Lynn Rajskub to receive an Emmy nomination, as the concluding moments of 24 were as much an opportunity for her to shine as they were for Kiefer Sutherland.
Let's also stop and give props to Cherry Jones. Someone finally remembered the show is dealing with a Tony Award winner here and gave Jones plenty of solid material in her scenes with Dalia Hassan. She was outstanding.
And, with that, the clock has run out on this review. While 24 has lost a bit of momentum and creativity over the last couple seasons, it will go down in history as one of the most unique, well-produced shows to ever air. Jack Bauer isn't going too far. We'll see him on the big screen soon.
But events won't unfold in real time there, a sobering thought for those of us that have set our Monday nights according to a certain ticking clock for eight seasons now.
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